So I might be shifting slightly off topic here from the original post but what I also found interesting in the Andrew Lesnie interview is that he said he had done some tests previously and found that it did not make any difference if you have the stocking in front or behind the lens, except that it's a lot easier to put it in front of the lens.
I cant remember exactly but when I tested this out a few years ago I though I noticed more veiling flare across the lens with the net in front. Also I thought that one bonus with having the net behind the lens meant that the apparent level of diffusion didn't change with focal length changes whereas if it was used in front this did seem to change, but maybe I'm confused on that one.
On another note The West Wing used nets behind the lens to great effect, I loved all those halated practicals on their sets. I think they use nets on NCIS too, it looks like it anyway, but for some reason it took me longer to get used to the look for that particular show.
I always want to use nets but whenever I test it I end up being too gutless to go with the effect, opting for glass diffusion instead. Maybe it's something to do with homemade/unknown vs quantifiable?
My main problem with nets is that you can't create a set that has even degrees of strength starting with barely perceptible. The lightest net I have ever found is still the equivalent of a #1/2 Classic Soft or #1 Black Diffusion-FX or #1 Soft-FX.
The difference between a net in front and a glass diffusion filter is that as you use longer lenses, you are looking through larger gaps in the net pattern, but with a glass filter, you are enlarging the "lenslets" that soften the image around the clear areas. So the nets tend to look lighter on the longer lenses. With nets, it's the thread pattern that provide diffraction that throws a soft image over the sharp image coming through the clear gaps.
Yes, I think putting them on the back of lenses tends to make them more consistent across a series of lenses. But you may also have to be more consistent about the f-stop you use.
I'd be very surprised if there was not a difference between infront of lens and behind lens diffusion. I'd accept at any given focal length with a test chart (no lights infront of the camera) they are the same..
ps I would love the next red camera to be designed so you could place a very thin filter behind the lens. Obviously this would have to be always populated..
Mr Mullens is too quick...
This is the 3rd time I've posted (too slowly) and only after posting realised he has produced a more coherent and usefull reply..
In future I'll assume nothing, just trying to demonstrate the collective softening of original material as it goes thru various post stages.
For multi release prints a IP and IN are struck which also adds to this
problem. And you dont know what you've got untill the final stage of
Post. DI facilities and Labs also use some form of Digital Sharpening to
'clean up' an image. If your just posting in 1080p, no problem.
If you light diffused or softer and keep optical diffusion off the lens then
you can sharpen and diffuse/soften at will in post for all stages of delivery,
(Film,1080p) and in various parts of the frame, not the whole frame.
Run burn tets and get the look you want.
If you shoot with too much diffusion on the lens, then you have to use Digital Sharpening of that overall soft shot in post or leave it soft.
It will look false and unatural either way.
Same goes for harder lighting, just how 'kind' a scene will look is unknown
untill 100-200 Release Prints are struck and screened.
This is one reason why even after you shoot a test, if you like the results of a particular diffusion filter, then use the next grade lighter than the one you liked. It's always easier to soften it a little more in post than to sharpen it if you went too far.
This is one reason why I'm interested in what the lightest grades of filters do. I like that barely perceptible level, like the slight glow that a #1/8 ProMist gives you (or the similar #1 GlimmerGlass.) You then get some of the pretty artifacts of diffusion without giving the impression of an image that lacks sharpness. And you can then pull that light filter when going to a softer zoom, or when you are shooting a very wide shot where you want the feeling of increased detail, or if you end up under really flat soft lighting.
That's why I always carry around a couple of the lightest grade of Soft FX which I can pretty much drop in or take out without too much thinking. I can just go with my gut instinct. No great ramifications or nasty surprises later if the shots aren't cut together they way they were originally intended. Although I guess I've used these filters so often now I know what to expect from them.
Quite often I'll just throw a diffusion filter on so that there are more lens "defects" occurring even in the wider shots. Sometimes it's really evocative when you get light hitting the front of the lens in the right way. Technically it's wrong, but it can look great. As long as you know when/if it's graded you can put a little more contrast back in if you want too.
Hi Iron P.,
Yes some old 35mm 25-250 Angenieux zooms had great "defects" without
a filter, just light bouncing around the elements.
Could be great on Red for an 'Easy Rider' kind of retro feel.
They dont resolve as well as modern zooms, have a softer look although
some can be reasonably sharp if found in good condition.
Back in the day, we would stick gelatin filters and black nets to the
back these old lenses for things like the odd hippie trippie stoner scene.
My boss refused to buy glass filters. Life was simple then and that probably
prompted my suspicion of the modern glass CC and diffusion filter epidemic.
the good ol' days... I think it's been said a few times around here before, that cameras like the Red would do well with the older, quirkier glass (for some projects). When you don't just want that super pristine digital image, instead you're looking to impart some character as well. I'd love to see some stuff shot with a set of old Cooke Speed Panchros, all you'd do is wind some of the contrast back in if you wanted later on.
I guess the thing is with a digital camera, you can QC the shots straight away with a scope or 30" 4K screen (next year), so the super techo types are in there looking at everything but the picture. At the end of the day it's an emotion that you're trying to convey on the screen, not the maximum lp/mm or whatever.
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